Whenever anything bad happens to you, put a statute of limitations on it!

Whenever anything bad happens to you, put a statute of limitations on it!

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Something crappy happens, and it feels like the world is crashing down around us. Maybe you got passed over for that promotion, which you were sure was yours.

Maybe your long-term relationship imploded in an ugly way. Or maybe you just had a really bad day at the office, where everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

In those moments, it’s easy to get stuck in a negative spiral of thoughts and emotions. You start replaying the events repeatedly in your mind, torturing yourself with all the “what ifs” and “if onlys.”

You might even start catastrophising, convincing yourself that this setback means your entire life is ruined.

But here’s the hard truth: that kind of mindset will only make you miserable. And it’s not going to change what already happened. The old saying goes, “Worrying is like a rocking chair — it gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere.”

That’s why I always try to put a statute of limitations on negative thoughts and feelings when something bad happens.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Give yourself permission to feel crappy for a little while. Don’t try to force positivity or bottle up your emotions. Feel what you need to feel in that initial aftermath-sadness, anger, disappointment, etc. As the quote goes, “Hunger makes a great sauce.”
  2. Set a time limit. Look at your watch and give yourself a set period-24 hours, 48 hours, whatever feels appropriate for the situation-to wallow and process. During that time, vent to friends, journal about it, cry it out-do whatever you need to to get it out of your system.
  3. When time’s up, it’s up. Maybe set a calendar reminder, but once that statute of limitation passes, it’s time to shift your mindset consciously. No more rehashing what happened or beating yourself up over it. Whatever happened is in the past, and there’s nothing you can do to change it now.

I know, I know-it’s way easier said than done. Believe me, as someone who struggles with anxiety and obsessive negative thought patterns, I get it.

But here’s what has helped me stick to those mental statutes of limitations:

  • Reminding myself that dwelling on the past prevents me from being present and focusing on what I can control going forward.
  • Making a list of actionable next steps rather than ruminating on what has occurred.
  • Talking it out with friends, then giving myself permission to move on once I’ve processed it thoroughly.
  • Practising mindfulness and grounding techniques to snap myself out of unhelpful thought cycles.

The bottom line? Life isn’t perfect.

We all face setbacks, disappointments, and crappy circumstances at various points in our lives. But what separates people who bounce back from those who stay stuck is the ability to give painful experiences a statute of limitation before they take over our entire mental and emotional well-being.

As the quote goes, “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.”

Don’t let one negative event cause you to suffer indefinitely. Put a time limit on how long you’ll allow yourself to feel bad, process it, and then refocus your energy on proactively improving your situation. It’s not easy, but enforcing that mental statute of limitations might be the key to resilience.

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